Nauro Campos, Eugenio Proto, Saul Estrin, 05 November 2010

Conventional wisdom says that corruption hurts the economy because it taxes investment and weakens public services. This column presents evidence from interviews with CEOs in Brazil. It argues that corruption acts as a barrier to entry, with potential entrants put off by the uncertainty over what bribes to pay and when to pay them.

Donato De Rosa, Nishaal Gooroochurn, Holger Görg, 30 August 2010

Does it pay to be corrupt? This column presents evidence from 22 emerging economies in Europe and the former Soviet Union on the effects of corruption on firm productivity. It finds that in a highly corrupt country, bribing officials actually has a negative effect on productivity, whereas in countries with strong institutions, it can open doors that competitors dare not touch.

Paul Romer, 11 August 2010

For many, corruption and political cronyism are seen as an inevitable part of Greek politics. This column argues that the same could have been said in the 1970s about Hong Kong, now a beacon of low corruption. Hong Kong managed this turnaround by appointing a non-elected governor accountable to the UK government. Greece could achieve the same by calling on the EU and start counting the benefits.

Lant Pritchett, Mary Hallward-Driemeier, 23 July 2010

Does government policy make any difference? This column argues that, in many developing countries, firms often make decisions based not on the policy itself, but what it implies in terms of “deals” they may have to make with middle men and corrupt officials. This “policy uncertainty” is a major concern for firms and can help explain some of the puzzles of development.

Francesco Caselli, Guy Michaels, 20 January 2010

Does the “resource curse” exist? This column presents new evidence from Brazil. Municipalities that receive oil windfalls report significant increases in spending on infrastructure, education, health, and transfers to households. However, the windfalls do not trickle down and much of the money goes missing. Indeed, oil revenues increase the size of municipal workers’ houses but not the size of other residents’ houses.

Sambit Bhattacharyya, Roland Holder, 13 November 2009

Resource-rich countries are often cursed by corruption and governance problems. This column shows that the natural resource curse burdens non-democracies, but countries with better democratic institutions are not corrupted by such endowments. For governments accountable to their citizens, resources can be a blessing.

Pushan Dutt, Daniel Traça, 25 June 2009

Would reducing corruption increase trade? While corrupt customs officials extorting bribes from exporters may impede trade, those who take bribes to circumvent formal trade barriers may help it. This column estimates that when tariffs exceed 25%, the pro-trade effects of corruption may dominate.

Helmut Reisen, Dilan Ölcer, 17 February 2009

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative has directed the international community’s attention to a sector that has traditionally been veiled in secrecy. But it has not been effective in producing change. Why have so many resource-rich countries failed to lower perceived corruption? This column points to low-quality information provided in reports and weak civil societies in resource-rich countries as possible explanations. Reforms and improvements are needed.

Raymond Fisman, 14 November 2008

Ray Fisman of Columbia University talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about his new book, Economic Gangsters: Corruption, Violence, and the Poverty of Nations, written with Ted Miguel. They discuss witch-killing in Tanzania, parking violations by United Nations diplomats, and the value of political connections in both the developing and developed world. The interview was recorded at the Centre for Economic Performance in London in November 2008.

Nauro Campos, 08 November 2008

This column presents evidence that lobbying is not only much more prevalent in developing countries than previously thought but also much more effective than corruption as a means of influencing public policy and supporting enterprise growth.

Battista Severgnini, 26 September 2008

Drawing on records from ‘Calciopoli’, a judicial inquiry into corruption in the Italian soccer league, Tito Boeri and Battista Severgnini have investigated what drives match rigging, including referees’ career concerns, competitive balance and media concentration. In an interview with Romesh Vaitilingam, recorded at the annual congress of the European Economic Association in Milan in August 2008, Severgnini discusses their findings.

Benjamin Olken, 29 August 2008

Ben Olken of MIT talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about his research on bribery in the Indonesian trucking industry – and the lessons for policy efforts to reduce corruption. The interview was recorded at the American Economic Association meetings in New Orleans in January 2008.

Eric Gould, Todd Kaplan, 05 November 2007

The importance of environment and how workers affect the productivity of co-workers through learning valuable skills and work habits is often stressed, but whether employees sometimes learn unethical practices from their peers in order to boost productivity is less well documented. The authors of CEPR DP6550 find that once a worker adopts questionable methods - which seem to be effective, competitive pressures may lead others to follow in order to get ahead, or perhaps just to stay even with other workers who are adopting similar techniques.

Ritva Reinikka, Jakob Svensson, 02 July 2007

The Millennium Development Goals call for universal primary school enrolment but still the available literature on schooling provides little guidance on what governments in developing countries should prioritize to raise educational attainment. Innovations in governance of social services may yield the highest return since social services delivery in developing countries is often plagued by inefficiencies and corruption. The authors of DP6363 exploit an unusual policy experiment to answer what may be the most effective way to increase primary school enrolment and student learning and conclude that publicity might be a way to solve the problem of corruption and diversion of funds in the provision of local services.

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